I can understand the temptation; from the outside, it may seem like some silly thing is holding apart people you love. However, a true understanding of a family’s dynamics is not something you can get from the outside—it takes a lifetime. No matter how well-intentioned you are, unless you are part of the family, don’t fucking comment or involve yourself.
More than ten years ago, I decided to start keeping my distance from my father. It was not a decision I came to lightly, but one that became necessary for my mental health. My father exhibits all of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Rumor has it he may even have been officially diagnosed with it, but refuses to believe that (because HELLO CLICHÉ).
If you’ve never known someone with NPD, then you cannot possibly understand what it is like to deal with one, much less be parented by one. Even as a grandfather, my father is simply incapable of putting anyone above himself. He has an uncanny ability to warp a situation to fit his narrative, which pits him as the victim and anyone who questions his horrible behavior (me) as the villain. And he can be so fucking convincing if you don’t know him well. I try to be respectful and not air our dirty laundry to mutual friends and acquaintances, but when I do have to occasionally admit that I’ve decided not to have a relationship with him, the baffled responses are always the same.
“But that’s you’re dad…” Yep, but biology sure as hell doesn’t make him love me enough not to call me horrible names when no one is looking.
“He never got over your mother’s death.” Nope, he didn’t. I haven’t either, but I somehow cope without verbally abusing people.
“I’m worried he might kill himself.” Welcome to his trump card! He’s been threatening to kill himself for literally my entire life. I wrote a story about suicide in second grade because it was such a familiar concept to me (and earned a day in the school counselor’s office for it). Suicide is my dad’s go-to when he wants attention, because it works.